Want to know the quickest way to dial up your inner critic?
Feed it some nice, sugary, fatty work calories.
Seriously, go ahead and challenge me on this. Say yes to your cube-mates candy jar or a slice of grocery store birthday cake.
Wait 5 minutes.
You regret it yet?
And now for the rest of the day, here comes the bad soundtrack in your head:
Why did I eat that? It wasn’t even that good.
Crap, that just canceled out my workout this morning.
Maybe if I skip dinner, I can make up for it.
Wait, I don’t want to skip dinner, I’ll be starving.
Screw it, I’ll have one more candy and start all over tomorrow.
Ugh, these feelings are far too familiar to me.
Why am I bringing this up, anyway? This isn’t a nutrition blog!
I’m not bringing it up because I want to criticize your food choices. Or to give health advice. Or to make you feel bad about yourself. I want everyone to feel good about the skin that they are in!
I bring it up for one reason: the mind-body connection.
The way you treat your body will impact your mind.
How can you kick ass at your highest ability if you aren’t treating your body and mind right?
Food at the workplace sneaks up on you in many ways.
You go into an early morning meeting, and there it is A FREE DONUT. They are decorated for the upcoming holiday and look so cute. Suddenly a donut with green icing and little Christmas tree sprinkles is too awesome to resist.
There’s an all-staff meeting, and there’s a spread of fresh bagels and every kind of cream cheese you can imagine. You already had breakfast, but you think, “I’ll just have half.”
So many birthdays. You chipped in a few bucks for that cake, so you feel justified in having just one slice.
It’s 3 pm and you need a pick-me-up. You treat yourself to a fancy espresso drink that has the caloric value of your lunch you ate two hours earlier.
Be honest. Most of those little decisions make you feel like trash.
Stop making your body feel poorly. Stop filling your head with negative chatter. You have more important things to focus on!
Understand that this is about more than the way your jeans fit.
Staying in control of your choices helps you stay in control of your mind.
I know that I perform my best when I am taking care of myself. How I fuel my body is at the top of that self-care list. I encourage you to prioritize good food choices for your own self-care.
While I wish that concept could be enough to inspire us all into making the best choices. Let’s face it: most work places make it very difficult!
Here are some tricks that I use to keep office junk food in check.
Re-frame it as “work food”.
There is nothing more unsatisfying than work food. This is how I finally broke the habit, by thinking of it as “work food.” Do I want this “work food,” or would I rather splurge this weekend at that great Mexican joint with my girlfriends this weekend? Do I want this “work food,” or do I want to go to happy hour tonight?
Don’t you want to save your splurges for truly special treats like your mom’s pumpkin pie or dinner at your favorite restaurant on Saturday? Why spend the empty calories on “work food”?
Bring your own breakfast.
I freely admit that I am a carb-o-holic. For years, I happily started my morning with my breakfast pastry of the day. Oh God, I still am tempted every morning when I pick up a cup of coffee. Muffins, bagels, scones…I love it all! But no matter what you pick, it’s a huge calorie hit for a pleasure that lasts 10 minutes at the most. It’s not worth it. Bring in a healthy option and stick with it.
Watch what you put in that morning coffee.
I was a cream-and-sugar java junkie. I can’t live without coffee, but there is no way I’m ever drinking it black. Wean yourself off the sugar habit. Keep cutting back until it’s gone. Move to a lower-calorie creamer option. Think of it as a step-down program. If you love half-n-half, move down to whole milk. It sucks for about a week, but you will get used to it on week 2. Once you get used to that, move down to skim milk. I now use protein shakes as a creamer. If you tried to pull that on me a few years ago, you would have gotten hurt.
Make routine work for you.
I find a tasty, healthy option that I love, and then I choose it every day until I get sick of it. That might sound like hell to you. It works for me because it stops me from wasting time and decision fatigue on the age-old question, “What am I going to have for lunch?” Put your healthy choice on auto-pilot. It makes it so much easier to stay healthy.
Avoid the easy targets.
There’s always one co-worker with a bottomless candy bowl. There’s usually a place where people put their party leftovers or extra Halloween candy on Monday morning. You can live without that bite-size Snickers or sliver of leftover pie, trust me on this. You know where these targets are – avoid them! Get them out of your sight!
Just say “no” to birthday cake.
You don’t need to make a thing of it. Go to the party. Chip in on the cake. I usually disappear as the cake is cut. People don’t even notice. If they do, all you need to do it make up a non-specific excuse like, “I’m late for a meeting.” Once you walk away, you won’t give the cake a second thought.
Get over the fact that it’s free food.
I get it, you’re strapped this week and it’s FREE FOOD! Know what else is free? Diabetes. Get over it.
Try a few of these self-care strategies.
You will feel better.
You will focus better.
You will be better equipped to get important things accomplished and show up as the badass you are!